By Jeremy Balan
Balboa High School junior Ben Olson isn’t in the conversation of most-accomplished Academic Athletic Association golfers yet, but he’s only a year away.
With an even-par 68 on Monday at Lincoln Park Golf Course, Olson won the AAA individual tournament for the second consecutive season, opening the door for an opportunity to become the third golfer in AAA history to win three straight titles.
Olson trimmed seven strokes off his championship-winning score from last season (75) and his total on Monday was the lowest score since 2005, when Lincoln’s Domingo Jojola shot a 1-under 67. He admitted that his lowest score on the course is a 4-under 64, but the 68 on Monday was his lowest in competition.
“The way I did today was so much of an improvement since last year,” Olson said. “Hopefully there will be even more next year.”
Olson birdied the par-3 third and par-4 11th hole, didn’t have a bogey until the 15th hole and had a stretch of eight consecutive pars, but his right-to-left 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole just didn’t break enough to put him back under par.
“I’ve worked hard this whole season and my school is really behind me, so I expected to come out here and shoot something than I can be proud of,” Olson said. “It wasn’t a miracle round. It was something I expected to do and I did it. I made my putts and didn’t give anything stupid away — no doubles, no three-puts and no lost balls.”
Olson was eight strokes better than second-place finisher Scott Bang from Lowell, who led the Cardinals to a dominating 398-465 win over Washington to collect their third consecutive team title.
Three Lowell golfers shot under 80, including freshman Sam Miller (77, third place) and senior captain Tom Ebergen (79, tied for fifth). Washington’s Joey Yashuhiro led the Eagles with a team-low 78.
Ebergen has been a part of all three Lowell championships and won the AAA individual title as a sophomore.
“We worked really hard and set some higher goals this year,” Ebergen said. “We reached our goal of [shooting under] 400 and we also had a goal of shooting under 200 on the front nine, so that made the back nine a lot easier.”
Olson and the Cardinals both advance to the CIF Northern California regional championships on May 21 at Butte Creek Golf Course in Chico.
Top 10 finishers
1. Ben Olson, Balboa – 68
2. Scott Bang, Lowell – 76
3. Sam Miller, Lowell – 77
4. Joey Yashuhiro, Washington – 78
5. Tom Ebergen, Lowell – 79
5. Shawn Inamura, Wallenberg – 79
7. Sean Li, Washington – 82
8. Chris Seiki, Lowell – 84
9. Phyo Thien, Washington – 86
9. Avery Velasco, Washington – 86